Food & Drink

The Best New Pizza Places in Chicago

Published On 09/06/2016 Published On 09/06/2016
La Barra Ristorante
Courtesy of La Barra
Courtesy of Forno Rosso Pizzeria Napoletana

Forno Rosso (Randolph location)

West Loop

On the heels of the success of the original Harlem Ave location, this Neapolitan pizza purveyor made the logical next move: opening a shop on Randolph Row. The area is a culinary hotbed, no doubt, but had long suffered from a lack of great pizza until these good folks showed up. Between its rustic, Old-World atmosphere and the VPN-certified pizzas, it's among the most authentic Neapolitan pizzerias in the city. Choose from a selection of red and white pizzas laden with quality, Italy-approved ingredients.

Courtesy of Happy Camper

Happy Camper

Old Town

Much like its Lincoln Park sister restaurant, Homeslice, this trendy pizzeria is an Instagrammer's playground, complete with photo op-ready tire swings and neon signs that look as though they were pulled straight from the closet of a graphic tee addict. The menu is equally playful, and runs the gamut from beer-basted breadsticks teamed with goat cheese and marinara to an array of meat-heavy and veggie-friendly pies named after people. The 18in Mike (Italian sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, Parmesan, and spinach-ricotta sauce), anyone?

Robert's Pizza Company

Robert's Pizza Company

River North

The signature part of this stylish resto's coveted pies is a top-secret dough recipe that took founder Robert Garvey some 20 years to perfect. The thin-yet-fluffy crust is the perfect canvas for upmarket creations, like a roasted duck breast pizza with Bella Viva plums, scallions, pecorino, Szechuan peppercorns, and hoisin, and a roasted red grape & fennel combo with taleggio and salted walnuts.

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Coalfire (Southport location)

Lakeview

With a sleek and significantly larger space and an expanded menu, the Southport Corridor location of Chicago's favorite coal-fired pizza joint is everything the West Town outpost is and more. Score two vegan-friendly pies that don't skimp on flavor; an ultra-earthy number piled high with seasonal mushrooms, panna, truffle paste, garlic, and olive oil; and longstanding favorites like the pepperoni and whipped ricotta, or starters like charcuterie and burrata. Wash it all down with a selection from the thorough beverage menu.

Courtesy of LaBarra

LaBarra

Oak Brook

OK, so the pizzeria formerly known as Pizza Barra is in the 'burbs, but it's been flying under the radar since it opened last fall, and we're here to remedy that. The sizable pizza menu satisfies most pizza enthusiasts, with artisan-style Italian pizzas with a ciabatta crust, or Chicago-inspired thin crust like the La Barra Supreme, which comes stacked with mushrooms, onion, green pepper, pepperoni, and olives. But the real stunners here are the Chicago pan pizzas. The supremely thick masterpieces remind us, in all the best ways, of the coveted pan pizzas at Pequod's, crispy crust and all.

Johnathan Shimabuku

Home Run Inn (North Side location)

Lakeview

After nearly 70 years of satisfying the South Side's collective hunger for pizza, this longstanding local great finally brought its signature pizzas to the North Side. The Lakeview outpost operates out of a sprawling 5,500sqft space, and promises a huge lineup of pizzas broken down into categories like "Flame Thrower" (hot & spicy) and "Curve Ball" (think: bacon cheeseburger and Carolina BBQ chicken pizzas), as well as 16 beers on tap and a North Side-only mac & cheese skillet.

Ben Sawyer

Lark

Lakeview

Having opened just in time for summer, this neighborhood-y spot has managed to seamlessly blend well-executed pizza with childhood nostalgia in the form of TVs screening '80s and '90s music videos from MTV's heyday. Like Forno Rosso, Lark also joins the elite group of precious few local restaurants cooking VPN-certified Neapolitan thin-crust pizzas, and while pizza may be the primary name of its culinary game, it's also home to house-made pasta, cheffy apps, and a respectable cocktail program.

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1. Forno Rosso 1048 Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607

The same people who brought authentic Italian pizza to Harlem Ave. keep expanding with this Near West Side spot. The hand-made, crisp dough with a chewy center, fresh chunks of mozzarella, and sauce made form San Marzano tomatoes rightfully earned this place its VPN (that's Vera Pizza Napoletana, an international pizza delegation that really exists) certification. Between it's pizza, other Italian staples like hand-made pasta, and rustic atmosphere, eating here feels less like Chicago and more like the Italian coast.

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2. Happy Camper Chicago 1209 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610

This variegated pizza place offers a wide range of options like thin-crust pizzas to familiar favorites like beer-basted breadsticks served with goat cheese marinara dipping sauce.

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3. Robert's Pizza Co. 355 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611 (River North)

Native New Yorker Robert Garvey took 20 years to perfect his pizzas, and once he did he brought them to River North with this industrial restaurant and bar. The decades of experience show in the crust of the pie, which is thin and fluffy and still manages to uphold the weight of high-grade toppings like duck breast, Bella Viva plums, scallions, pecorina, Szechuan peppercorns, and hoisin -- and that's just one one slice.

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4. Coalfire Southport 3707 N Southport, Chicago, IL 60613 (Lakeview)

Larger and featuring an expanded menu than the West Town original, Coalfire Southport serves the same thin-crust, coal-fired pies with a myriad of toppings. Every pie comes out of the oven with a charred crust, and the toppings vary from vegan-friendly combos to tried-and-true favorites like pepperoni and whipped ricotta.

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5. La Barra 3011 Butterfield Rd, Oak Brook, IL 60523

Located in the Oak Brook Promenade, La Barra is the dressy answer to the Chicago neighborhood slice. On top of thin and deep dish pizzas flaunting organic tomato sauce, La Barra ups the ante with a full dinner menu of pastas, fish, and meat dishes alongside a few sharable plates of olives, cheeses, breads, and dips. You won't find any takeout boxes behind the sleek, white-tiled counter -- but you will find an expansive number of imported wines.

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6. Home Run Inn 3215 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

This Lakeview spot, an outpost of the South Side-based chain that's been delivering top-notch pizzas to Chicago for decades, operates out of an expansive 5,500-square foot space, and offers an equally expansive lineup of pies, which are broken down into categories like "Flame Thrower" (hot and spicy) and "Curve Ball" (e.g. bacon cheeseburger and Carolina BBQ chicken pizzas). You'll also find 16 beers on tap and a North Side-only mac & cheese skillet.

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7. Lark 3441 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

You'll need to eat your feelings while you watch nostalgic '80s and '90s music videos on this neighborhood gastropub’s TV screens, and lucky for you, it has some of the best pizza in town to do just that. In fact, Lark is certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana as a traditional Neapolitan pizza-maker. Alongside thin-crust pizzas topped with homemade mozzarella and thin-sliced prosciutto, there are creative pasta dishes, sandwiches, and half-pound burgers, as well as a decent lineup of house cocktails.